The Three Billy Goats Gruff became a 5-Day class favorite instantly in the beginning days of the school year. We read several versions, comparing them with each other. I could often hear, from across the classroom., "Who's that trapping over my bridge?" as the preschoolers retold the story in their daily play. We soon started acting out the story ourselves, our classmates as our audience.
Bridges became a focus as we studied famous bridges, the different materials used to build bridges, and the different shapes/forms of bridges. We learned that the designer of The Golden Gate bridge wanted his bridge to be useful AND beautiful. We got busy designing our own bridges.
Field trips to Hickory Hill Park offered the chance to cross real bridges. We looked at the materials used to build them, their shapes and design, and what was underneath. But the best part, it gave us a real bridge to act out our story!
We continued keeping the billy goats and the mean ugly troll in our days at Preucil through art work and storytelling.
One day in late November, our friend Calvin came to help us think about how mean and ugly trolls would move their bodies. Calvin, we know is good at moving (he has a dance background and was Max a few years ago in our popular showing of Preucil Preschool presents Where The Wild Things Are )
When he left, we documented what we learned so that we could remember the moves later. As time went on, we would pull out our 'directions": and do our moves.
One January day, I read another troll book, this one titled Troll Wood. It starts with a human family entering Troll Wood. The viewer can see the heads of giant trolls peeking out over the trees. The book asks, "Will you enter....Will you find the path....Will you climb the mountain....Will you stay the night?" To these questions, the children responded "NO!" There were gasps as the family continued. We stopped on one page and I asked them how they were feeling.
"The trolls are going to trap them!"
"They want to eat them."
"The people aren't seeing the trolls so they don't know they shouldn't be in those woods."
As the book ends, it becomes apparent, that these particular wood trolls are not interested in eating humans. They are just...interested in humans. They wave to them, and we imagine them saying hello.
Me: We thought these trolls were mean, but we found out they are not. What happended to your mind during this story?
"It turned on!--Thor
"It like, started at red but then it turned green.:--Orion
"My mind changed what it was thinking."--Brooks
Yes, our minds CHANGED. We discovered, that just because we only knew trolls that were bad, that doesn't mean ALL trolls are bad. It was a valuable lesson learned, on a storytime carpet in a preschool classroom.
"You might think you know something, but then you find out out you didn't really know it very well and your mind changes." --Teo
We drew some troll pictures again, this time thinking about how our minds had changed about trolls.
4 years ago, a little girl told me she wanted to make a story, so I got busy writing her words. This is her story:
"Once upon a time, there was a troll who walked through 100 forests for 1000 years. His name was Charlie. Then another troll came out of a cave. Then Charlie said, "Well, we may not be alike, but we are both trolls." they became friends. They were brothers then. Then two more trolls came out of another cave...they met Charlie and became friends. .All the trolls lived together happily ever after. "--Louisa
I shared this story with the class. Charlie troll quickly became a class icon.
Our class decided to see if we could change other people's minds about trolls. The way to do this, they decided, was to show people two troll stories. The first would be The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Then, we would show them Charile troll and Charlie's friends. Surely that would change people's minds. We got busy making plans. Everyone signed up for a character. Mindy, one of the preschoolers' mom and dance professional, came to visit us. We came up with a lot of ideas about how to move our bodies to show all of our characters.
We decided we needed a stage, a set (things that show the audience where we are pretending to be), an audience, and costumes. We signed up for committees and had some meetings to make more plans. We even started working on the stream and grass for our set.
Sadly, our show has been put on hold while we all stay safely in our homes during the 2020 Pandemic. While I write this, I'm uncertain as to whether we will be back. But the lessons learned here, in our preschool classroom, are too important to be lost to a virus. If the first troll you meet is bad, it doesn't mean ALL trolls are bad. And most importantly....minds can be changed from red to green. Minds can be changed. And so, somehow, someway, this show must go on!
5 day teacher